Gundam Versus Hands-On Preview – Mech Brawls

Dave Aubrey

Sometimes these days, looking at the title of a game doesn’t tell you much about what it is. NieR Automata? No idea. Ni no Kuni? Not a clue. Tokyo Mirage Sessions? Good grief. Gundam Versus, though, is on the other end of the spectrum - take one look at the title, and you already know what this game is about. Yes, there are Gundams. Yes, they will be fighting one another. What else do you need to know?

Gundam Versus plays out like many anime-style arena brawlers before it. In a large open area which you can move around freely, you’ll have to take apart enemy Gundams as they fly in to challenge you. Usually you’ll have a goal, of course - defend this point, defeat all the enemies, heck, even destroy 15 waves - fairly typical, expected stuff honestly.

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Where Gundam Versus sets itself apart from other arena brawlers - aside from taking place with Gundams, of course - is the sheer number of mechs and support mechs at your disposal, coming from across the Gundam franchises. Mobile Suit Gundam, Gundam SEED, Gundam Wing, even the newer Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans - long-time fans of the series will find so much to delve into, so much lore and accurate mechs for real Gundam geeks to sink their teeth into.

The combat, however, fairs less wonderfully. To be clear, there’s so much potential; Gundams look great, fly about the battlefield so well and it looks so satisfying as they tear into one another - but the combat is actually pretty boring and incredibly awkward to control.

Now, granted, it might be difficult taking an entire Gundam cockpit and adapting it to fit on a DualShock 4 controller, but there must be a better way of fighting these immense mechs. They dash around the battlefield beautifully, but when it comes to shooting bullets and wielding a plasma sword, there’s no feedback, and everything feels very disconnected from what you’re doing.

It doesn’t help that the demo I played required me to kill off waves of enemy Gundam - it only served to highlight how fiddly the controls were between each wave, and how similarly each enemy fought and looked. It convinced me, very quickly, that playing against AI opponents weren't going to stay interesting, even if the difficulty were turned up - perhaps when going up against human opponents, the game really kicks into high gear - but from what I saw here, I was doubtful.

Gundam Versus seems like exactly the kind of game I want to love, but from what I’ve played so far, it’s something I’ll struggle to enjoy for long. Still, the game is due for release on September 29th for Sony's PlayStation 4, priced at $59.99. Check back near that date to read our full review.

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